George Williams will head to Wakefield “at ease” after securing his future with Wigan.
The England halfback has made a sparkling start to the season, helping them to five straight wins including the World Club Challenge, to emerge as an early Man of Steel contender.
I went with my gut instinct and with my heart.George Williams
But Williams admits the protracted contract talks were distracting.
The 29-18 Good Friday win against St Helens was his first game since agreeing a new deal which will see him become the club’s second marquee player, along with Sam Tomkins, from next year.
And he will head to Wakefield today with his full attention on matters on the pitch.
“I felt at ease playing against Saints,” he admitted. “It wasn’t just happening over a few weeks, it was since January, so there were a lot of phone calls and meetings... it was quite hard.
“I was meeting Ian Lenagan weekly and sometimes we’d go backwards, and I’d walk out thinking, ‘I’m never going to get this sorted’.
“But on Wednesday, we met and it clicked into place, and I’m happy it’s all sorted.”
Williams was “very close” to leaving to join the NRL at the end of 2018, when his existing contract was due to expire. His new deal runs until 2021, though he can leave a year earlier if a set-transfer fee is met, and he has not ruled out a move Down Under later in his career.
“I’m not going to lie, I was very, very close (to an NRL move),” he said. “I spoke to Tommy (Leuluai), he told me the good and the bad for both but said, ‘I can’t decide for you’.
“I went with my gut instinct and with my heart.
“I’ve got a lot of learning to do - at 26 I can have a look again and see where I’m at.”
Williams’ full attention is now on helping fourth-placed Wigan push towards top-spot by beating Wakefield today.
Their derby win was their first in five matches.
“I’ve been lucky to never lose a Good Friday game, it’s four for me and now we’ve got to keep the ball rolling,” he said.
“It is hard with 12 men but Saints had a real dig.
“The Easter period is tough on the body, but it is what it is, we’ve got to be professional. We were in the pool after the game, ice baths afterwards, and Wakefield have been winning a few games so we’ll certainly not disrespect them.”